By: Kylan Watson
Fresh off their undefeated West Coast Road trip the Philadelphia 76ers got the chance to bring the city’s win streak to two-and-zero against New York teams and get their second victory of the season over the Brooklyn Nets. Despite this being the first time that Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons faced off since last season’s trade. The contest came down to the wire, but the Sixers were able to execute down the stretch and beat the Nets 137-133 and push the win streak to six games.
This game had all the intensity of a playoff game in the opening minutes of the contest. The referees call four technical fouls within the first couple of minutes of the game, and the Sixers were clearly letting their emotions get the best of them. The Sixers clearly took it personally when the Nets blew them out last year and are content to never let the Nets see another victory over them again, and they played like it. Joel Embiid (26-points), Tyrese Maxey (27-points), James Harden (23-points) De’Anthony Melton (19-points) and Tobias Harris (18-points) combined for 115 of Philly’s 137-points. Maxey had his second-best game since returning from his foot injury as he scorched the Nets from all sides of the court. He had it working from beyond the arc in the contest hitting six three-pointers to lead the team tonight. Philly needed every one of them tonight to keep the Nets at bay. Maxey had the crowd on its feet towards the end of the first quarter as he scored at least four baskets to push the Sixers lead to eight points in the quarter. If Maxey can continue to be a star in his role as the sixth man and continue his hot shooting from beyond the arc, then the Sixers will have the best offense and the best scoring punch in the league. How do you contend with a 20-plus a night scorer off the bench after dealing with Joel Embiid and James Harden?
To their credit despite the Sixers running them off the floor. Brooklyn continued to fight and stormed back into this game thanks to Seth Curry and Ben Simmons. The duo made the Sixers pay for lackadaisical defensive play, Curry scored 32-points tonight and had a pivotal three-pointer that tied this game up. With every bucket he scored, it gave Sixers fans memories of what could have been had Philly not traded him last year. He continued to haunt Philly tonight like they were Jacob Marley being haunted by the three ghosts in A Christmas Carol. Curry has continued to be an important piece of this Nets teams especially without Kevin Durant and the Sixers barely had enough horses to keep him in check. They will need to improve their perimeter defensive scheme with the Denver Nuggets coming to town on Saturday Afternoon.
The Sixers were able to pull-away from the Nets thanks to their late-game execution and turning their defensive intensity to a thousand. They finally got the ball out of Seth Curry and Kyrie Irving’s hands and force someone else to beat them and they could not do it. Additionally, James Harden came alive and hit two back-breaking three-pointers to keep the Sixers ahead. Last year the late-game execution left something to be desired and cost Philly easy wins in the regular season and postseason last year. However, this year it has been a strength as the squad seems to be really gelling as a unit and it has propelled the Sixers to second place in the loaded Eastern Conference, and with Philly preparing for the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. They will need to make sure they stay attached to their man and force someone else not named Nikola Jokic to beat them. Additionally, they will need to continue to keep the ball moving and maximize their offensive capabilities. Philly struggled tonight when the ball stayed in one place they are at their best when the ball moves, and they get a high-percentage shot. If they want to get their 32nd victory of the season.